OTTAWA—Canada's former Secretary of State (Asia Pacific) David Kilgour and human rights lawyer David Matas have launched an investigation into allegations that the Chinese communist regime is extracting and selling the organs of thousands of live Falun Gong practitioners and then killing the victims. Their plan includes going to China.
At a press conference today Kilgour and Matas were joined by seven Members of Parliament from three major political parties.
Kilgour expressed hope that the "completely independent investigation" and the report they plan to make public in four to six weeks will shed light on the reported atrocities.
As part of the plan to verify the reports, Matas explained that he and Kilgour will personally interview all witnesses available in North America, including telephone investigators.
Recent reports from the World Organization to Investigate the Persecution of Falun Gong say that Chinese hospital staff is repeatedly urging patients to come as soon as possible to obtain organs for transplant, many also confirming that these organs come from Falun Gong practitioners.
The Chinese regime has denied the charges. However, Conservative Party Caucus Chair Rahim Jaffer said "the position of the Canadian government has been to encourage the independent verification of these allegations."
"Given China's record of human rights abuses, we have a duty to take these allegations very seriously," he added. He expressed confidence in having Matas and Kilgour lead the investigation, calling it "the first step in putting all the facts on the table."
"These allegations are not an issue affecting a single group in China," he remarked, but "are a disturbing affront to human life and we all have a stake in finding answers."
NDP MP Bill Siksay, however, emphasized that "we need the government [of Canada] to be investigating this as well." He has written to Minister of Foreign Affairs Peter MacKay.
The Canadian government should "take its proper role on behalf of Canadian practitioners of Falun Gong and the [persecuted] friends and families of those in Canada," he said. NDP MPs Wayne Marston and Denise Savoie were also present to show their support.
Last month Bloc Québécois Foreign Affairs Critic Francine Lalonde wrote to MacKay in support of timely investigation. And Green Party Foreign Affairs Critic Eric Walton told The Epoch Times in March that there was enough evidence to warrant "all levels of Canadian response."
Referring to the possibility of cover-up by the Chinese communist regime, as in the case of the SARS epidemic and the Tiananmen massacre of student protestors, Matas said going to China is only part of the answer in verifying evidence; the weight of the witnesses outside China must not be dismissed. They are more free to give information, he explained, because they are "not subject to intimidation the way they would be if they were in China."
Kilgour noted that the substantial evidence about the organ harvesting of other prisoners definitely add credibility to the allegations of organ harvesting of Falun Gong practitioners. Moreover, "obviously, if a target group is more generally persecuted and there is a poor human rights record, it gives more credibility to the specific allegations," said Matas.
Chinese inside sources began coming forward in early March to reveal that live organ harvesting from Falun Gong practitioners has been taking place since 2001 with the aid of hospitals in connection with Chinese authorities, including the Chinese military and police.
According to Falun Dafa Association of Canada spokesperson Lucy Zhou, since 1999 when the persecution of Falun Gong began, the number of organ transplants in China has grown exponentially. Falun Gong is considered the "number-one enemy" of the communist regime, Zhou said. Hundreds of thousands of practitioners have been arrested and sentenced without legal procedure, and many remain missing while the families of many others receive only the ashes of their relatives who died in custody.
Matas promised that he and Kilgour will "pursue any line of investigation available to us as far as we can." Noting that he was encouraged by the support of several members of the governing party at the press conference, he said it shows the Conservatives are going to take the investigation report seriously. Conservatives Maurice Vellacott and Bruce Stanton also attended, as did Liberal Borys Wrzesnewskyj.
Related efforts to find answers include a request to the Parliamentary Committee on Foreign Affairs to study the persecution and organ harvesting of Falun Gong practitioners, as well as a motion being considered by the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly recommending a public hearing on organ harvesting in China. United Nations torture investigator Manfred Nowak is also looking into the allegations.
Zhou expressed hope that "the independent investigation itself will give moral support to those being persecuted in China and put pressure on the Chinese government." Kilgour asked that anyone wishing to give support or information contact him at his website at www.david-kilgour.com .
The facts themselves, when established, will mobilize efforts by many governments and NGOs, as well as all people, Matas said.